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Coronavirus Pandemic Claims First Victim Of 2021 Tennis Season

Officials say they can’t go ahead with the popular tournament due to the ‘tough environment’ related to the pandemic.

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image via https://twitter.com/ASB_Classic/

The COVID-19 outbreak has already forced a series of professional tennis tournaments to be cancelled this year and the pandemic has now claimed its first victim of the 2021 season.

Officials have confirmed that the ASB Classic in New Zealand will not be going ahead next January amid uncertainty caused by the virus. Held in Auckland, there are separate tournaments for both men and women which take place during different weeks. Tournament director, Karl Budge, has said that decision has been made now because of the planning that would be required to stage the tournament. 

 

“Yea obviously an incredibly sad day for us,” Budge told New Zealand media.
“We thought we had a plan that was robust, but unfortunately there just not a pathway to a decision that we could have in the timeframes we needed and unfortunately that’s led to the pretty tough environment that we’re in today.”


Budge said there are a ‘myriad of factors’ that has contributed to the decision to cancel the event. Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has previously said players entering his country will need to quarantine for 14 days within a ‘bubble’ coupon arrival. Which would have potentially caused a headache for those travelling between New Zealand and Australia.

“It’s an incredibly complex situation. There’s no sort of one off area that we met or didn’t meet. There’s a myriad of factors that we needed to work through,” he said.
“Unfortunately there just wasn’t the pathway to get to a point that any of us could have confidence that we could deliver what you need to to deliver a tournament of our standing in a timeframe that would enable us to do it.”

The ASB Classic is currently categorised as a 250 event on the ATP Tour and as a Premier on the WTA Tour. At this year’s event Serena Williams lifted the title in what was her first trophy of any sort since becoming a mother. France’s Ugo Humbert won the men’s title.

A political fallout has erupted over the announcement with some accusing the government of not doing enough to support the event. Emma Mellow, who is a National Party candidate for Auckland Central, told The New Zealand Herald that the event would have contributed $20 million to the local economy. Mellow says officials were too slow in providing support to budge and his team.

“Ten days ago I raised the alarm that government ministers were dropping the ball on the ASB Classic, and their failure to engage constructively with organisers was putting the tournament at grave risk,” she said.
“The organisers were left waiting three months for a response from the Government about whether or not they could work on a safe solution.”

Despite the setback, Budge has vowed that the tournament will return stronger in the future.

“We’ve had incredible support from our sponsors (and) the team that we’ve got here that work tirelessly on trying to make a summer of tennis happen and I think we owe it to them to do everything that we possibly can to ensure that we return in 2022 and we return with a real statement.” He concluded. 

The ASB Classic was named best International event in five out of the past seven years on the WTA Tour.

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Taylor Fritz saves two match points to upset Alexander Zverev in Indian Wells

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Taylor Fritz saved two match points to score the second top 5 win of his career against 2021 Olympic champion Alexander Zverev at he BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Fritz has reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal. 

 

After a trade of breaks at the start of the opening set, Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Zverev broke serve in the seventh game to win the first set 6-4. 

Fritz broke in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead and served out 6-3 at deuce in the ninth game. 

Zverev earned an early break to take a 2-0 lead at the start of the third set and held on his next service games to open up a 5-2 lead. Fritz broke back in the ninth game, when Zverev made two double faults, as he was serving out the match.  

Fritz came back from 2-5 down in the third set and fended off two match points at 3-5 30-40 and 4-5 30-40 to beat Zverev 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) after 2 hours and 22 minutes. 

Despite today’s defeat Zverev still leads 3-2 in his head-to-head matches against Fritz. The US player will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 2-6 6-4 to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal. 

“I was really down and out but I found a way to put myself into it. I really wanted to make him have to close me out and I was able to get back into the match Normally you would be so nervous in those situations and in the third set tie-break, but I felt so confident being aggressive, going after my game. It feels really great to play well with the pressure on”, said Fritz. 

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upsets Stefanos Tsitsipas in Indian Wells to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal

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Nikoloz Basilashvili upset world number 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 2-6 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semfinal. 

 

Basilashvili, who was playing in his first Masters 1000 quarter final, went up a 4-1 lead with a double break in the first and fifth games. Tsitsipas pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Basilashvili held on his next service games to claim the first set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas broke twice in the fourth and eighth games and did not face a break point to seal the second set 6-2. 

After a trade of breaks in the first and fourth games of the third set, Basilashvili earned his second break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and fended off a break point in the eighth game to hold serve after three deuces. He served out the win on his first match point in the 10th game.   

Despite the defeat Tsitsipas still leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Basilashvili. The Georgian player had never won a main draw match in Indian Wells in his four previous appearances at this tournament. Earlier this year he won two titles at Doha and Munich. 

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his third consecutive Masters 1000 semifinal in North America after advancing to the last four in two consecutive hard-court tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. 

“I have played really great matches this tournament. I was not played with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is still a tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally I would be a little bit tight and stressed”, said Basilashvili.

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Carlos Moya, Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for the 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame

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Carlos Moya, the first Spanish player the number 1, and former Grand Slam champions Flavia Pennetta and Ana Ivanovic are among the candidates for 2022 International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

 

Ivanovic lifted the 2008 French Open Trophy after a final at the 2008 Australian Open and a semifinal at 2007 Wimbledon and claimed 15 WTA titles during her career. Since her French Open triumph, she spent 12 weeks as world number 1 player. She would become the first player representing Serbia to be voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. 

“Many of the women who I looked up to as a young girl are Hall of Famers and to be nominated to receive an honour that places my career alongside those who inspired me is just incredible”, said Ana Ivanovic. 

Flavia Pennetta became the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion when she beat her childhood friend Roberta Vinci in the all-Italian US Open Final in 2015. Pennetta teamed up with Vinci in guiding Italy to four Fed Cup titles. 

“I loved competing and to have my tennis career recognized in this way among the sports all-greats is such an incredible honour”, said Pennetta. 

Moya won the 1998 Roland Garros title and reached the 1997 Australian Open final. He became the first Spanish player to reach the top of the ATP Ranking and won 20 ATP titles, including three ATP Masters 1000 trophies. Moya lifted the Davis Cup title in 2004 for Spain after taking his his second singles win of the tie with his straight-set win over Andy Roddick. 

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